If you’re an energy supplier in the UK market, then you won’t be immune to the impact of strict regulation, margin pressures and meeting consumer demands; all which create a challenging environment to make a profitable business model.
Whilst trying to keep their heads above water, suppliers are also trying to keep one eye on the future and the changing landscape of energy supply. For many, it’s an overwhelming task to future-proof their business whilst trying to achieve a cash-positive balance sheet today.
How do energy suppliers sustain and grow, amidst these challenges?
According to Rob Gildert, CEO and joint Founder of energy software innovator Gilmond, the supplier of tomorrow has to be smart and dynamic, thinking beyond the provision of traditional energy as we know it. “The energy supplier of yesterday is the boring corporation that doesn’t speak and doesn’t engage with its customer base.
Gone are the days when the energy supplier dictates to the consumer. You can no longer get away with super-high tariffs and a one-dimensional customer relationship. You can’t just issue a bill and expect a payment – without any further engagement with the consumer.
The survivors in this market are the smart suppliers who are proactive, energy-saving and cost-saving. These suppliers will already be thinking – and taking measures – beyond traditional energy, as we know it. As home technology becomes smarter, so must the future energy supplier”.
The future is smart
Rob goes on to explain, “A glance into the future home-tech environment paints a picture of the fridge, the heater, the lighting all talking to the smart meter. It will be the role of the energy supplier to take all of that data and manage the end-to-end process.
The supplier’s technology will need to be interchangeable with every touch point. Some suppliers will fall short if their technology can only communicate with their own devices. What the consumer will judge you on is the seamless interaction as well as the energy cost and carbon savings.
The consumer will expect one centralised hub in the home that controls everything. Today water meters have to be read manually. Tomorrow, consumers will control their own heat pump. Software automation that seamlessly interacts through one central hub is how the future energy supplier will operate”.
Self-sufficient smart homes
The effect from this evolving change is a continuum. When smart home technology becomes common-place, the service will begin to expand.
Rob believes energy suppliers have an opportunity to transition from a commodity supplier to an essential home solution. “The next phase after the smart home hub will include home security, EV charging, providing and controlling heat to the home, connecting with local wind farms and even consumer energy exchange.
This could involve consumers renting batteries from the supplier – renting and discharging overnight – and buying and selling as a commodity”.
This will all be supported by a different geographical network of energy. “The need for big nuclear power stations has gone,” explains Rob, “local energy farms will become the norm as they are environmentally better and the losses [of unused energy] are lower.
Local energy will be produced not only by businesses but even by households and smaller organisations such as schools. Suddenly, not only is the consumer self-sufficient, local households and businesses will have more control – producing, storing and even selling their energy supplies”.
UK Power Networks, a leading UK electricity distributor, are preparing for this change and actively investing in a decentralised physical infrastructure; they currently have more than 200,000 local generators connected to their network.
The UK energy network in 2040
Fast-forward twenty years and the energy landscape is greener and economically different in every way.
With self-sufficient, self-generating local businesses and households across the UK operating interchangeably between each other, the flow of supply will be no longer one-way but a matrix flow of energy, data and billing between consumers. “Throw into the mix potential new energy types, such as fusion and Exxon algae, which could be on the scene by 2040 and you have an entirely new landscape compared to 2020,” says Robert.
“Being an energy supplier will completely change. Their role will be to facilitate supply and not just to supply. It’s absolutely essential that they develop an infrastructure and a proposition that enables the smartification process.
They need to start investing in technology that can communicate with multiple devices and exchange the data through the smart hub, enabling their consumer a smart and seamless digital customer experience that puts them in the driving seat to control their own energy supply”.
To discover more about Gilmond and our energy technology solutions, please get in touch